Eye injuries from New Year's Eve fireworks: ophthalmologists call for a ban on firecrackers

Eye injuries from New Year's Eve fireworks: ophthalmologists call for a ban on firecrackers

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Our eyes are particularly at risk for New Year's Eve

According to a recent study, our eyes are particularly at risk on New Year's Eve. According to a recent survey, children, adolescents and bystanders in particular are particularly often affected by eye injuries caused by fireworks. Eyelid, corneal or conjunctival injuries occur frequently, in severe cases there are bruises and cracks on the eyeball. Eye specialists therefore recommend stronger protective measures.

Around three quarters of the injuries caused by fireworks on New Year's Eve are eye injuries. Every fourth eye injury is severe and requires inpatient admission to emergency surgery. The German Ophthalmological Society (DOG) calls for stronger protective measures, which should range from wearing safety glasses to improved education and even a ban on private fireworks.

Three quarters of fireworks injuries affect the eye

51 hospitals participated in a survey on fireworks injuries in the past three years. It was found that three quarters of the patients had to be treated for injuries to the eyelid, cornea or conjunctiva. "Sometimes there was additional eardrum damage or injuries to the lungs, face or hands, which in extreme cases even resulted in an amputation," wrote the DOG in a press release to the survey.

Fireworks pose three risks

"Fireworks can cause very complex damage through the triple combination of heat, impulse and chemicals," emphasizes ophthalmologist Dr. med. Ameli Gabel-Pfisterer. The consequences are often serious. Around 40 percent of the serious injuries caused by fireworks have permanent consequences such as poor eyesight or scarring. Especially for young people who are just beginning their professional lives, such permanent damage is serious.

Typical victim: young men

Analysis of 1,356 fireworks injuries showed that three quarters of all those affected were male. "Around 60 percent of all patients who had to go to a clinic are 25 years or younger," emphasizes Professor Dr. Daniel Böhringer from the University Eye Clinic Freiburg. In turn, the proportion of children and adolescents aged between one and 17 years is almost 40 percent. "Boys and young men have a significantly higher risk of serious injuries requiring surgery," adds Böhringer.

The cause of injury differs in children and adults

The investigation also revealed the cause of the injuries. While children and adolescents mainly injure themselves with firecrackers and firecrackers, the injuries in adults are often due to rockets. "Children often pick up firecrackers from the ground or hold them in their hands for too long," warns study author Gabel-Pfisterer. The risk of combined injuries to the eyes, hands and face is four times as high.

Better education required

"It is highly dangerous material, and teachers and educators should also take up the topic," said the ophthalmologist. Parents, in particular, should speak to their children and warn them of the dangers.

There is no harmless pyrotechnics

The doctors also warn against supposedly harmless pyrotechnics such as sparklers and Bengal lights. "In up to 30 percent of cases, Bengal lights or sparklers lead to injuries, in some cases even the falling remains of burned-off fireworks," adds Professor Dr. Hansjürgen Agostini from the University Eye Clinic Freiburg.

Watching in itself poses a risk

"Over all the years of the investigation, around 60 percent of the patients stated that they had not ignited the fireworks themselves," said Agostini. Unfortunately, 60 percent of the injured children were not involved in the fireworks.

Firecrackers as a weapon

Some accident victims even reported being deliberately thrown at the fireworks. "Deliberate attacks on bystanders are catastrophic, and this also applies to attacks on rescue personnel that are taking place recently," criticizes Professor Agostini. This is particularly alarming.

Extensive protective measures required

Based on the current study results, the DOG and the professional association of ophthalmologists (BVA) are calling for far-reaching measures to reduce the number of victims. "We advocate educational campaigns about the risks and the simultaneous supply of safety glasses with fireworks," demands Dr. Peter Heinz, 1st Chairman of the BVA. In addition, the associations want to advance the discussion about a general ban on private fireworks.

DOG President: "Less is more"

"Fireworks belong in the hands of professional pyrotechnicians," emphasizes DOG President Professor Dr. Hans Hoerauf. A first sensible step is a strict observance of the ban on handing over and passing on of category 2 fireworks to minors, a clear limitation of usage time as in Holland as well as an expansion of the firework-free zones, the associations demand. "Last but not least, this also reduces the considerable particulate matter pollution on New Year's Eve," summarizes Gabel-Pfisterer. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • A. Gabel-Pfisterer, D. Böhringer, H. Agostini: Three-year results of the German nationwide survey on eye injuries caused by fireworks. 3-year results of the German nationwide survey on eye injuries caused by fireworks. The ophthalmologist. 2019,

Video: Happy New Year 2019 - Celebrations around the world (June 2022).


  1. Hanson

    Thanks for support how I can thank you?

  2. Goodwyn

    Now all became clear to me, I thank for the necessary information.

  3. Farold

    I agree with you

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